Home energy costs seem to climb every year, much to the chagrin of anyone who must cough up the funds to cover this bill each month.
In light of the changes in temperatures approaching, I read through an extensive series of articles on the website of my home power provider, Roanoke Electric Cooperative. The cooperative’s website shares a wealth of tips for saving money on both summertime cooling and winter heating costs.
This article will share the first steps they suggest you take to keep your energy costs relatively affordable–during both winter and the summer.
By the end of the article, you will know:
- The role windows play in energy efficiency
- How to ensure your HVAC system is at peak performance
- Thermostat adjustments that add up to massive savings
- Whether you need a professional energy audit (and how you might receive one for free)
- The role of LED lighting in consumer costs
- How to inquire about an equal payment plan (budget billing)
Please note: I do not work for the Roanoke Electric Cooperative, nor have they provided me any compensation for this content or for any links to their website. This fact-based article comes from my own research, using my electricity provider’s publicly provided content.
Insulate Windows and Seal Up the Air Leaks to Control Home Energy Costs
Proper insulation is critical to increasing your energy efficiency, especially during the heat of summertime and cold winters. You can find many methods to insulate your property. The Roanoke Electric Co-op guidelines suggest that you start with windows.
The company website urges homeowners to use heavy-duty plastic sheeting to cover drafty windows in the winter. This thin barrier helps seal off any small gaps and keeps the warmer, heated air inside for longer. If you can’t afford replacement windows, this is the best option.
Roanoke Electric Co-op also cautions its website visitors to carefully inspect their homes to find and seal any other leaks. In particular, air leaks around plumbing outlets are relatively very common. Finally, check for gaps around recessed lights, ceilings, chimneys, and doors–all drafty points in the home.
Ensure That Your HVAC System Is Well Maintained to Minimize Spikes in Energy Costs
Well-maintained HVAC systems tend to be energy efficient. Therefore, they use less energy and cost less money. According to Roanoke Electric Co-op guidelines, start by scheduling a professional inspection of the entire heating and cooling system.
This process will help identify potential concerns and fix them as soon as possible. As for furnaces and heat pumps, the utility company recommends monthly filter replacements.
Be sure to clean the filters on window unit air conditioners. Conversely, clean the flue vent often if you use wood pellet or other heaters during cold snaps.
Adjust the Temperature to Lower Home Heating Costs on the Coldest and Hottest Days
Adjusting temperature can also help in lowering your energy costs. Roanoke Electric Co-op suggests that you set the thermostat that controls the air conditioner unit as high as possible when you’re at home and awake, as long as it feels comfortable.
But when you step out of the home or turn in for the night, consider turning the thermostat up (or down in the winter) to between ten and fifteen degrees for at least eight hours. According to the co-op, this one behavior will save nearly ten percent in heating and cooling costs each year.
You can also inquire of your electricity provider whether they can provide customers with intelligent thermostats to assist you in controlling the heating and cooling remotely–in case you forget!
Energy Efficient Lighting (An Important Tip for Winter Months)
Energy-efficient lighting solutions are not necessarily related to heating and cooling. However, the longer daylight hours during the short winter days mean you might need to leave light fixtures on longer than usual. Thus, spending as little energy on them as possible is very important.
In fact, Roanoke Electric Co-op recommends changing your lighting to energy-efficient LED lights. You can also consider LED Christmas lights during the holiday season to reap even more in energy savings. Some estimates show that LED lighting uses a whopping 75% less energy than old-school incandescent lights.
Enroll in a Budget Billing Program to Better Avoid Shock at Rising Energy Costs
Most electricity providers offer some variation of an equal payment plan designed to give you more control over your energy bills. Heating and cooling costs can spike without notice. That can lead to suddenly higher, unexpected energy bills in any given month.
But what if there were a method to pay a fixed amount every month regardless of your energy consumption?
An equal payment program does precisely that very thing. It gives electricity consumers a stable payment plan to pay a fixed energy bill depending on average household or commercial energy consumption.
Check out your electric provider’s website to see if they offer this feature. They might also call it “budget billing.” If you do not see this listed on their site, give them a call to inquire–the phone number should appear on your monthly statement.
Request a Free Energy Audit
Through grant monies, many energy providers are also equipped to help property owners enhance energy efficiency through free energy audits. In short, the assessment identifies possible energy money pits and provides recommendations on how to fix them.
If your electric bills have spiked inexplicably recently, this would be a wise next step to take to regain control over your energy costs. However, it’s always good to regularly get an energy assessment even if bills are average, as it helps prevent possible future wastage. Since many power companies do this as a free, value-added service, it’s worth your consideration.
Heating and cooling costs, especially during the peak summer and winter months, can become a substantial financial cross to bear for any household or commercial property.
Fortunately, you can explore numerous solutions to reduce them. The guidelines above should be an ideal starting point, but you can also explore more ways to reduce wasting energy.
The Takeaway: You Can Manage Energy Costs–Start with Outreach to Your Electricity Provider
Start your search for a method to lower your electric bills by reaching out to your local power company.
Regardless of where you live, your electricity provider might have grant funds to offer programs for consumer education and to assist in reducing energy costs. These programs help you find the tools you need to minimize the impact of your ever-rising household bills.